Amazon is beefing up its social media capabilities to make room for the Kindle Tablet and to tap some of the magic Google+ and Facebook have grabbed.
Amazon is tweaking its Website to be more friendly to the touch-screen access afforded by tablets.
Add social media development to the list of action items Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) is ticking off as it speeds toward its Kindle Tablet launch this fall.
Reuters said the e-commerce giant has stepped up its social software efforts
, hiring John Yurcisin from WPP's Ogilvy & Mather interactive marketing business as its social media director. The company is also advertising on Dice.com and LinkedIn for several other developers and software engineers.
Amazon hopes to fashion a social games unit to leverage one of the hottest trends in the industry triggered by Facebook and Zynga, which offers popular titles such as Farmville and Mafia Wars exclusively on the world's leading social network.
Amazon's move to social follows that of Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), which was late to challenge Facebook but did so respectably in June with the launch of Google+
. The company would add a section for online games in August
Does Amazon's sudden, heightened interest mean the company is going to Google, which followed Facebook, to launch a social network? The company declined to comment for this story.
Amazon doesn't have the communications base to build the network, said Altimeter Group founding analyst and social media expert Charlene Li. But it does mean the company is seeking to tap into social media to discover and share information about purchases they make.
"I think social is going to be embedded into everything they do," Li told eWEEK. "Amazon has a lot of customer accounts and they can use everything associated with a user's account as a [social] activity stream."
Such a platform would let Amazon users authenticate with whatever Web credentials they choose, from Facebook, with which Amazon already connects, to LinkedIn (NASDAQ:LNKD), Google+, Twitter or even a work email account. Any time a user makes a purchase they can choose to share that purchase on their favorite social network. Users would be able to opt in to sharing purchase info with their friends from social networks.
Amazon owns and operate one of the best, comprehensive recommendation engines in the world. When a consumer makes a purchase via Amazon's Website, the company shows what other products were bought by people who made the same purchase.
Li believes the company wants to use social media to augment that recommendation engine, which is algorithmic in nature.
"Right now it is very difficult to see what your friends are doing on Amazon," Li said. "I could see a movie that has hundreds of reviews, but I don't care about hundreds of reviews from people I don't know. What I want to know is from my friends who are movie buffs and whose taste in movies I actually respect."
As for the social games Amazon is building, there's perhaps no better platform for accessing online games on the go than a tablet.
Amazon is expected to launch the Android-based Kindle Tablet, which could arrive as a full color content consumption machine in November at a $300 or lower price point
. Analysts expect this Kindle Tablet could be the first real challenger to Apple's iPad.
"Their lunch is being eaten by iPad and they want to be able to control their destiny to some extent," Li said.
If nothing else, an Amazon tablet would give the e-tailer its own branded mobile portal through which Amazon consumers could shop, which is a popular activity from the iPad and other slates. Forrester Research surveyed 2,000 tablet owners and found 47 percent said they shopped for and purchased something on their tablet.